Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is considered a journey and where that journey will take you is of the unknown. It can take you to new countries, bring self-awareness, lead to new relationships and change your world completely. Brazilian native black belt Rose Sousa of GFTeam is no stranger to the adventures that BJJ takes you on. Her BJJ journey has helped her find her courage, her husband, lead to a new career and has brought her to a whole new country. She literally would not be where she is today without that first step she took on the mats back in 1997.
When she was 15 years old, she was very small and skinny. She was what bully’s would consider an easy target. After getting into two fights at school, she asked her mom to enroll her in a martial arts school. It was the guidance of a friend from school that led her to her first class and opened up a whole new life for Rose. She says it was “love at first train”.
With that Rose’s journey began at Nova União academy with Professor Wendell Alexander. Upon moving to Búzios, Rio de Janeiro she started training with her husband and professor Luiz Dentinho Eduardo on the GFTeam. She was a purple belt at the time. Búzios is a small beach town near Rio de Janiero which is at popular tourist destination. Rose was one of the few females training at her academy. She says that at the time BJJ was mostly popular among men and very few girls were interested. She believed that other women found it too violent.
Since her start Rose has seen a phenomenal increase of girls training in Brazil. She attributes that to not only the excellent physical activity BJJ offers but that you also learn self-defense and how to act under the threat of aggression. She also says that for kids that are being bullied at school BJJ is an amazing tool that allows you to build self-confidence which is the best deterrent for bullies. All of these factors are reasons why BJJ is not only increasingly popular in Brazil for females but on a worldwide level.
In 2011 her and her husband moved to Denver Colorado for a job opportunity her husband was offered at Easton Training Center. She has since moved to Houston Texas and works at Rilion Gracie Academy. She teaches on a regular basis. She says that she doesn’t see being an instructor as being a challenge but as inspiring.
“I don’t see it as challenging but as an inspiration. It is unbelievable how students can change with our help. For example, you start working with a shy student that lacks confidence and witness how they become confident and outgoing changing their lives in the process.”
Through all of Rose’s BJJ adventures she has learned a lot. She has grown as a person and as a practitioner. Her adventure has spanned close to twenty years. She has had many trials and tribulations. She has overcome many valleys and conquered many mountains. Rose had some advice from what she has learned in her journey so far and how we should look at our academies and mostly our mindsets in why and how we train.
“One thing I’ve learned after many years and injuries is to think of the place where you train as a school where you go to learn Jiu-Jitsu, not as a “fight club”.
Girls in Gis staff writer
Shama Ko is a brown belt with Gracie Humaita out of Austin, TX. She has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since November of 2003. She is a photographer, writer, community organizer and activist. She heads the Girls in Gis organization or as she calls it the “movement”. She describes herself as both a lover and a fighter. She loves to laugh and not take life too seriously.